Back in 2001 a bunch of project managers and software developers got together somewhere in Colorado, drank some beer, smoked some of them tweeds (I can only assume) and came up with a document that has since defined my career as a project manager. I LIVE it every work day and fight the battles with my teams to balance out the left and the right of it with a focus on what works uber alles. What I’ve seen in the years I’ve attempted to reach the Agile goals is that the Manifesto continues to be wholly relevant to every single day I work and has come to reside as a core philosophy, even when I’m stuck on some dismal waterfail project (yes, even I believe that not all projects are a good fit for Agile).
Another thing I’ve seen as companies and project groups start to implement Agile more (and in almost all cases fail in the beginning) is that there are so many ways you can get it wrong if you forget to keep referring to the Manifesto itself. One of the old companies I worked for tried to implement Agile recently and even got a consultant to help them– but their implementation decries from great heights that they don’t even have a basic understanding of the underpinnings of the why of it all– and it has already descended into scrumfailland and to be blunt, abject stupidity.
Just like any discipline, you have to understand the philosophical underpinnings, the why of it all, to form the core beliefs that lead to success– and the creators of the Agile Manifesto has handed us this on a platter for easy consumption. I’m never one to sit around on soft pillows talking about theory– I don’t think any project managers in existence are– but that is no excuse to not understand what the core system forming your tactical methods is all about and continuing to refer to it as arguments on systems escalate. Granted there have been mass tomes written since on how to actually utilize the Agile methods tactically, some far better and more accessible than others so it’s much easier today to start implementation in your organization, but I feel you still need to really look yourself at the Manifesto and glean from in what’s going to work for you–then start in on the massive amounts of tactical implementation literature. I reiterate that the tenants put forward by the writers of the manifesto are as relevant today as ever and though battles have been won against the PMI generic project management waterfail methods (i.e.: as a PMI, you can project management anything! Sorry, no.) across the planet, the war against bad software project management has only just begun.